As I said in my Schlock & Awe review of From Beyond, the only times film adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft stories have seemed to work are when they go super weird. And that mostly happens when Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna are involved. After the success of 1985’s Re-Animator, a delightfully gruesome take on mad science, a sequel wasn’t necessarily guaranteed, but it was wanted. To further the connection between Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the sequel would focus on Dr. Herbert West’s desire to create woman… in his own disturbed way. Naturally, the 1989 movie was to be called Bride of Re-Animator.
Stuart Gordon decided not to direct this sequel, instead directing Robot Jox (yes, really), and so the directing duties fell to producer Brian Yuzna, who’d just gotten through directing the insanely weird and viscera-filled Society. With Bride of Re-Animator, the story became more baroque, maybe a little more campy, but the gore continued to be incredibly nasty looking, and even more surrealist and gross. It also became a lot more Gothic in nature. And even though he sort of died at the end of the first movie, Jeffrey Combs returned to play Dr. Herbert West opposite the now extra-distraught Dr. Dan Cain, played by Bruce Abbott.
The story concerns Cain and West eight months after the events of the first movie and aiding in a war torn country with medical aid. When they return to the states, they continue their research on bringing the dead back to life, something Cain is now extra passionate about following the death of Meg, his girlfriend from the first movie. West wants to attempt to bring things back to life and have them retain their mental capacity, their soul, without them becoming mindless monsters. To do that, he’s going to have to have a whole lot of rejects.
While all of this is going on, Cain begins seeing Francesca (Fabiana Udenio, best known as playing Alotta Fagina in the first Austin Powers movie) and attempting to keep her away from their research. Which is actually pretty hard to do, considering the house they’re renting has a giant stone basement laboratory that butts up against a graveyard. Also, someone finds the head of the evil Dr. Hill (David Gale) from the first movie and reanimates it, and grafts bat wings onto his ears. The whole thing leads to a not-yet-finished woman being re-animated and Hill and an army of mutants attacking. It’s pretty great.
While not as funny or as groundbreaking as the first movie, Bride of Re-Animator features a ton of really great effects by a host of amazing makeup houses including KNB Effects, Screaming Mad George, and John Carl Buechler. There are creatures in this that are the stuff out of nightmares, including one made of fingers and an eyeball, one with a leg attached to the neck of a disembodied head, and, of course, Dr. Hill with bat wing ears. Yuzna’s eye for when and how the gore should be shown comes through quite successfully. Like Society, the bulk of the gore and violence is relegated to the final act, and when stuff kicks off, it really kicks off.
Bride of Re-Animator is coming to a 3-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack from Arrow Video which contains both the rated and unrated versions of the movie. But, let’s be honest, you’re just going to watch the unrated version. It also has a brand new interview with Yuzna, interviews about the effects with all the different artists and houses and what effects they specifically worked on, a brand new commentary with Yuzna, and two older commentaries with Combs and Abbot and other assorted cast and crew.
As with all of their releases, Arrow has put in as much care and time as possible to ensure the movie looks and sounds as good as it can, and this will sit nicely on your shelf along with the other movies I’ve listed above.
Bride of Re-Animator 3-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo hits internet retailers and store shelves Tuesday, April 12.
Images: Arrow Video